As we await the season’s slew of critics’ and industry prizes to announce nominees and winners, “The Fabelmans” has held a steady lead in our Oscar predictions for Best Picture. As of this writing 17 of the 22 Expert journalists we’ve surveyed from major media outlets are betting on Steven Spielberg‘s semiautobiographical drama. That’s a big lead, but there are five films with the backing of one Expert apiece that could steal its thunder.
Tariq Khan (Fox TV) currently puts his money on “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which indeed ranks second in our overall odds. The outlandish film full of martial arts and interdimensional travel would be an uncharacteristic choice for the academy, to say the least, but this is an academy that has been making uncharacteristic choices of late, from “The Shape of Water” (2017) to “Parasite” (2019). And “Everything” is off to a good start with multiple Independent Spirit Award nominations and a Gotham Award win for Best Feature.
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby) is predicting “The Banshees of Inisherin,” about a friendship between two Irishmen that mysteriously comes to an end. It’s written and directed by Martin McDonagh, a previous Oscar winner for his short film “Six Shooter.” His last film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” probably came close to winning Best Picture five years ago, but it did claim acting prizes for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.
Nikki Novak (Fandango) is betting on “Top Gun: Maverick.” Speaking of uncharacteristic choices, this would be the rare sequel to win Best Picture, especially unusual because the first film from 1986 wasn’t an academy favorite, earning four nominations below the line and winning just one award for Best Original Song (“Take My Breath Away”). But “Maverick” was one of the year’s defining success stories, a box office behemoth with near-universal praise. At a time of uncertainty for the media, the academy might want to throw its support behind a ray of commercial hope.
Tim Gray (Variety) says “Women Talking” will prevail. It’s as intimate as “Top Gun” is grand, following a group of Mennonite women debating what to do about the abuse they have suffered. But the Oscars have been more and more open to quieter films of late, with “Moonlight” (2016) and “Nomadland” (2020) taking top honors in recent years.
Lastly, Shawn Edwards (WDAF-TV Fox) is going out on a limb for “She Said,” the journalistic drama about the investigation into Harvey Weinstein‘s many years of sexual abuses. It could follow in the footsteps of another journalistic Best Picture winner, “Spotlight” (2015), though it unfortunately made headlines for the box office shortfall it suffered in its opening weekend. However, many Oscar contenders this season have failed to light the box office on fire (including “The Fabelmans”), so that may not be as much of a factor in the Best Picture calculus as it has been in the past.
So that’s five challengers with a shot at Best Picture against “The Fabelmans,” but it’s not an exhaustive list. This time last year “CODA” was hardly on anyone’s radar as a potential Best Picture winner, so it’s still a season full of many possibilities and few certainties.
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